CAN YOU SCREAM?

Have you ever had to record screams? We needed some for a film a few years back & for the same film needed a female loop group, so at the end of the ADR session we asked each woman to step up to the mic & scream… and it was weird but only half the actors present could really truly scream! I had always thought everyone can scream, but apart from it being a truly flight or flight reaction, at our request it was not the case.
The one bit of sage advice I have for recording screams is this: never rely on just one mic. We used four mics for this session: a Sennheiser MKH70, a stereo pair of Oktava mics and a EV27 dynamic mic as our safety… and as it turned out on a number of occasions the dynamic mic was the only mic to not distort! I am not talking about preamp distortion ie where too hot a singal is arrving at the preamp input stage, I am wise to that problem with pads etc, but I am referring to actually overloading the SPL rating of the mic itself… I am most familiar recording with shotgun mics such as the MKH70 or the Sanken CS5 stereo mic (or previously the 416) but these are sensitive mics that will clip when SPLs max out & so I say again – if you are recording screams run a dynamic mic alongside your usual favourite & rest assured you won’t lose a great performance to mic distortion ever again…

Relatedly I always presume everyone knows about the Wilhelm scream, but just incase you have no idea what I am talking about, read this and/or watch this:

To be honest I prefer to make my own little Wilhelms, as in using & reusing screams that have relevance to me – a certain dialogue editors scream has been used in many films now… But I do have to confess to there being two films that I have worked on that contain the Wilhelm; Black Sheep and 30 Days of Night… anyone spot them? I guess that means theres 142 films with the Wilhelm in them now, if this list is correct!

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